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Google Earth Tours of Glacier Change

Mauri Pelto, SERC - On the Cutting Edge Collection

A detailed Google Earth tour of glacier change over the last 50 years introduces this topic in an engaging way. Students are then asked to select from a group of glaciers and create their own Google Earth tour exploring key characteristics and visible changes in that glacier.

Activity takes a minimum of one class period plus some independent work time. Computer access highly recommended.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.

Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:B) Places
Other materials addressing:
B) Places.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • If students look at the two glacier tours on their own, they would need a worksheet or other guidance to keep them on track.
  • Educator will have to provide assessment questions.

About the Content

  • Combines Google Earth imagery, photographs, topographic overlays and data from glaciers and landforms in a lab activity. Powerful way of using Google Earth.
  • Uses many lines of evidence to build an understanding for the effects of climate change on glaciers.
  • The Google Earth tours are loaded with quality information and present data is in several different formats.
  • These glaciers may have undergone additional changes since this activity was created, so it may be worth investigating additional sources of imagery or data. The USGS has a repeat photography program in Alaska and Montana to observe changes in glaciers.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The activity provides the students a feel of changes occurring on glaciers due to climate change over the past 50 years. Studying and learning become more effective when you actually start feeling it and sensing it. This is what this activity lends.

About the Pedagogy

  • First part of the activity is passive as students watch the Google Earth tour. But the second part of the activity is active and students create their own glacier tour in Google Earth.
  • Students must already be facile Google Earth users as is stated in the activity; this activity would overwhelm new users.
  • Activity can be done independently or guided by educator.
  • The glacier tours can be used as a standalone presentation for students who are not ready to dive into Google Earth.
  • Activity can be done without computer lab based on link in supporting materials.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The .kmz files create a very thorough presentation.
Entered the Collection: November 2013 Last Reviewed: September 2016

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